Sales of compact discs took another dramatic plunge in the first three months of 2007:
In a dramatic acceleration of the seven-year sales decline that has battered the music industry, compact-disc sales for the first three months of this year plunged 20% from a year earlier, the latest sign of the seismic shift in the way consumers acquire music.
The sharp slide in sales of CDs, which still account for more than 85% of music sold, has far eclipsed the growth in sales of digital downloads, which were supposed to have been the industry’s salvation.
The slide stems from the confluence of long-simmering factors that are now feeding off each other, including the demise of specialty music retailers like longtime music mecca Tower Records. About 800 music stores, including Tower’s 89 locations, closed in 2006 alone.
Apple Inc.’s sale of around 100 million iPods shows that music remains a powerful force in the lives of consumers. But because of the Internet, those consumers have more ways to obtain music now than they did a decade ago, when walking into a store and buying it was the only option.
Today, popular songs and albums — and countless lesser-known works — can be easily found online, in either legal or pirated forms. While the music industry hopes that those songs will be purchased through legal services like Apple’s iTunes Store, consumers can often listen to them on MySpace pages or download them free from other sources, such as so-called MP3 blogs.
Kellie and I own a lot of CD’s (okay, most of them are mine), and about the only place we use them anymore is in the car. Even there, satellite radio has taken the place of the six-disc CD changer for most long trips. For the most part, the music in our home is stored, and delivered, electronically.
It seems much of the rest of the public is heading the same way.